The role of marital status and age on men's and women's reactions to touch from a relational partner

Alesia Hanzal, Chris Segrin, Sybilla M. Dorros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Prior research has consistently documented differences between men's and women's reactions to being touched by other people. One of the more interesting findings in this literature is the apparent role of marital status in dramatically altering these sex differences in reactions to intimate touch. Unmarried men tend to respond more favorably to intimate touch than unmarried women do, but this difference is reversed among married people. However, research that documented this effect has potentially confounded marital status with age. Participants in this investigation were 305 adults, ranging in age from 18-69. They completed an extensive survey of their reactions to touch to various body regions from a significant other. Results indicated that men had uniformly more positive reactions to intimate touch than women did. For non-intimate touch, the sexes were more comparable in their reactions. This investigation once again documented a disordinal sex by marital status interaction. Unmarried men had generally more positive reactions to touch than unmarried women did and this pattern was reversed among married participants. When statistically controlling for participants' age, these interactions were still evident.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-35
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Nonverbal Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Age
  • Body regions
  • Intimacy
  • Marital status
  • Reactions to touch
  • Sex differences
  • Touch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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